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Ann Elizabeth Nelson (April 29, 1958 – August 4, 2019) was a particle physicist and professor of physics at the University of Washington.[1] She was a member of the university's Particle Theory Group since 1994. Nelson received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004,[2] and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011[3] and the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.[4] She was a recipient of the 2018 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics, presented annually by the American Physical Society and considered one of the most prestigious prizes in physics.[5]

Ann E. Nelson
Born(1958-04-29)April 29, 1958
DiedAugust 4, 2019(2019-08-04) (aged 61)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materHarvard University, Stanford University
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (2004)
Sakurai Prize (2018)
Scientific career
FieldsParticle physics
Doctoral advisorHoward Georgi



Nelson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Stanford University in 1980,[6] and her Ph.D. degree at Harvard University under the supervision of Howard Georgi in 1984.[7]


Nelson and her collaborators are known for a number of theories, including:

  • The theory of spontaneous violation of CP (charge conjugation and parity symmetry), which may explain the origin of the asymmetry observed between matter and anti-matter.
  • The theory of Bose-Einstein condensation of kaon mesons in dense matter, which predicts strangeness in neutron stars.
  • The basic mechanism for electroweak baryogenesis, which may explain the origin of matter in the universe.
  • The theory of gauge-mediated supersymmetry breaking, which accounts for how supersymmetry at short distances might be compatible with the absence of observed flavor-symmetry violation at long distances.
  • The Little Higgs theory, which may explain why the Higgs boson must be relatively light.
  • The theory of "accelerons", which relates neutrino masses to the cosmological dark energy responsible for the relatively recent acceleration of the expansion of the universe.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Nelson was married to David B. Kaplan, also a professor of physics at the University of Washington. She had been an active member of The Mountaineers club in Seattle since 1994, and died in a fall on August 4, 2019 while hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.[1][9]


  1. ^ a b Fields, Asia (August 6, 2019). "UW professor Ann Nelson remembered as brilliant physicist, advocate for diversity in science". The Seattle Times.
  2. ^ "Guggenheim Fellows Directory". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  3. ^ "Ann E. Nelson - Member Directory". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2016.
  4. ^ "Ann E. Nelson - Member Directory". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "2018 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics, Ann Nelson". American Physical Society. 2018.
  6. ^ "Ann E. Nelson - Profile". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "Harvard University Department of Physics Newsletter" (PDF). Harvard University. 2018.
  8. ^ "Two biggest physics breakthroughs of the last decade are integrally linked through dark energy and "acceleron"". July 27, 2004.
  9. ^ "Remembering Mountaineer Ann Nelson". The Mountaineers. August 6, 2019.

External linksEdit